Legance: “The new Italian arbitration legislation will make Italy a more popular seat for international cases”

One of the leading law firms in Italy, Legance has strong cross-border capabilities. Cecilia Carrara and recently arrived partner Sven von Mensenkampff discuss their Germany-facing activities and wider trends in dispute resolution.

Posted Friday, March 18th 2022
Legance: “The new Italian arbitration legislation will make Italy a more popular seat for international cases”

Leaders League: Can you explain us how Legance strengthened its German-speaking desk over the course of 2021?

Cecilia Carrara & Sven von Mensenkampff: In 2021 Legance acquired a new partner, Sven von Mensenkampff, with a team of two associates. Sven is German and has a dual qualification, both in Italy and Germany. Sven has been established in Italy for over 20 years mainly, is based in Milan and is part of the corporate finance team. Together with Cecilia Carrara, Sven will focus on strengthening the already excellent relations of the Firm with the German-speaking world.


In what ways does Legance add value for German clients?

Legance is a top-tier Italian firm, but its professionals understand the specific needs and legal culture of German clients, be they management, in-house counsel or colleagues at German firms. We know what a German client or law firm is likely to expect and we strive to fulfil their expectations. This allows the immediate creation of a climate of mutual trust. At the same time, we are recognized in the domestic market as a first-class, full-service law firm, so we can offer our German clients top-notch legal assistance covering all areas of business law. With Sven and his team, Legance has now also increased its number of professionals who are fluent in German.


Can you describe the strengths of your disputes team?

Legance’s Dispute Resolution department consists of a team of about 30 lawyers. The team has proven experience and a high level of specialization, and assists several international clients (including German multinational companies) in various types of disputes and proceedings, including arbitration, both at national and multi-jurisdictional level, and in relation to civil and commercial matters, in a wide range of matters – including, inter alia, banking and finance, energy, corporate, real estate, commercial and contract law, aviation, healthcare and life sciences, unfair competition and environmental law.

Thanks to the expertise gained and the continuous collaboration with other departments of the firm specializing in different practice areas, the professionals of the team can offer an effective and comprehensive service to meet the client’s needs, including in extremely complex litigations that requires solving complex issues in different branches of law.


Can you describe your experience within the disputes team related to German-speaking clients?

The disputes team currently assists large Italian state-owned or Italian listed companies in liaising with German counsel in litigation proceedings pending in front of the German courts. Likewise, Legance assists several German groups or their subsidiaries in litigation in front of the Italian courts.

Cecilia Carrara is routinely appointed as arbitrator in ICC [International Commercial Court] or DIS [German Arbitration Institution] disputes involving German-speaking parties and/or arbitrators, acting either in English or in German, and has been recently representing as counsel a German private equity fund in a post-M&A arbitration in front of the Milan Arbitration Chamber. In December 2021 Cecilia was elected member of the Beirat [advisory board] of the DIS.


What will 2022 bring in the field of international arbitration?

In 2022 we may expect that physical hearings will be resumed, though it will be interesting to see to which extent users and professionals will continue to prefer virtual hearings, for reasons of cost, logistics or both.

The debate on the role of arbitrators, their neutrality and impartiality will continue, especially in the field of investment arbitration. In a post intra-European BITS context, the discussions on a multilateral investment court will also develop further.

As to Italy, finally we will have a new legislation on arbitration, which will open the way to an increase in popularity of Italy as a seat for international cases. On 25 November 2021, the Italian Parliament approved a reform of the civil justice system that will be implemented in the course of 2022. Most importantly, arbitrators will be granted the power to issue interim measures, thereby aligning the Italian legislation on arbitration with the UNCITRAL Model Law and international standards. Arbitrators will be required by the law to disclose facts relevant to their impartiality and independence, under penalty of invalidating the acceptance of appointment (in the event of non-disclosure) and forfeiture of the appointment (in case of incomplete disclosure). The obligation to disclose conflicts of interest is already foreseen as mandatory under the Rules of the Milan Arbitration Chamber, and already applies in all cases seated in Italy where the institutional rules so require, but it will become mandatory also as a matter of law. Also, the courts acting as appointing authorities will have to follow transparent criteria in making the appointments, ensuring an adequate turnover and efficiency.


Does Legance have any involvement in climate change litigation?

Legance has been closely studying and monitoring the increasing trend of climate change litigation and supports large corporate clients in evaluating climate change litigation risks.

Cecilia Carrara has been acting as a member of the ICC Task Force on Arbitration of Climate Change-Related Disputes. Daria Pastore is an officer of the IBA Class Action Committee that is focusing its activities on, inter alia, climate change class actions.

More broadly, through its CSR Committee, chaired by Cecilia Carrara, over the past five years Legance has been engaging in the analysis of the legal trends concerning sustainability and the role of legal counsel, and has initiated its own process towards becoming a net-zero firm. In 2021, Legance decided to establish a new ESG & Impact  group, coordinated by Roberto Randazzo, with the aim to make the team's work complementary to the firm's other practices (including the Dispute Resolution department, with two partners, Cecilia Carrara and Daria Pastore, as well as managing associate Bianca Berardicurti and other associates focusing on these matters) offering clients support that is both purely legal and innovative, through organizational and reporting models based on social impact generation.